Mars One, project to colonize Mars. Is it achievable?

Interstellar travel or interstellar colonization have been cores to many science fiction stories. There’s nothing more exciting to see something in science fiction to exist in the real world. Now, it seems the dreams of many science fiction fans have a chance of becoming true.

Concept of Mars Colony (Image from Wikimedia Commons, credit to NASA Ames Research Center)

In 2012, a project of sending humans on a one-way trip to colonize Mars, the Mars One project, was announced. According to Mars One, a rover will be send to Mars to search for optimal location for a settlement in 2020. In 2022, cargoes for building a settlement will be sent, and a settlement will be established in 2023. The first crew of colonists will depart Earth in 2024 and will arrive in 2025, while the second crew will depart in 2026. Below is a video of a brief description of Mars One.

Youtube video uploaded by MarsOneProject

Criticisms have never stopped since the day of the announcement. One of the criticisms is on the funding of the project. Different from major space projects supported by governments, Mars One receives no funding from any government agencies but from company partnerships, sales of broadcasting rights, crowd funding, and more. NASA chief Briand Muirhead said that he has very little confidence in such project being publicly funded.

Also, the cost of the project received many criticisms. The project was estimated to cost 6 billion USD, but Austere Human Missions to Mars, a similar project proposed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was estimated to cost 100 billion USD. The difference in cost raised skepticism on the Mars One project. In an assessment by MIT on the Mars One project, establishing a settlement on Mars would cost 4.5 billion USD alone, meaning only 1.5 billion USD will be left for building of spacecrafts, transporting the crews to Mars, or any other costs.

As for technology required for the project, no detailed information has been released yet. The Mars One project only has brief descriptions of the technologies required for the project on the website, and they stated that the existing technology is sufficient carry out the project. However, according to the same assessment by MIT, one of the technology essential to the project (In-Situ Resource Utilization) is currently immature to be used on Mars. In-Situ Resource Utilization is required to convert raw resources on Mars into usable resources.

At this point, the project receives many doubts. However, the future is unpredictable. Maybe a new technology is currently in development and will make the project possible in the future. Whether the Mars One project will be successful or not, only time will tell.

-Daniel Hsiao

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